Moriah Hartfield knew education was the first step for creating a future for herself. She had grown up in Detroit, seeing her mom and dad struggle. Her parents encouraged her to go to college, and her aunt and uncle set an example by earning degrees from Michigan State University. When it came time to graduate from Clarkston High School in 2018, Hartfield knew MSU would be the perfect place to be a first-generation college student and pursue her dreams.
Hartfield attended Oakland Community College for basics, paying what she could for tuition with her savings from a high school job. She got a job in the financial aid office and learned about grants and awards that could help. In 2020, she transferred to MSU to major in public relations and worked occasional jobs when she could to help make ends meet.
“My family wasn’t able to help me,” she said. “They sent me a $100 every once in a while, but nothing that could really help with tuition, books and living expenses. I was really trying to avoid taking out student loans. It was incredibly hard.”
Hartfield joined a group chat with other Black students. They shared stories. They talked about their experiences. Several students mentioned emergency funds available through the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. She decided to ask her academic advisor.
“I wasn’t sure I was eligible, and my personality is one where I won’t ask for help anyway,” she said. “But my advisor got back in touch and said they could help me.”
In fall 2021, Hartfield received financial assistance through the LaMonte Student Emergency Fund—a fund that provides flexible assistance in a timely way to address extraordinary and unexpected financial hardships that could derail a student’s education. The assistance helped Hartfield buy books, pay rent, purchase groceries and cover her phone bill. The biggest benefit of the funds, she said, was taking away her worries.
“During spring semester, I only had to think about my schoolwork,” Hartfield said. “I didn’t have to worry about getting more hours at my restaurant job or having to drop out because I couldn’t afford things. Receiving the funds helped me feel taken care of. I could be a regular student and enjoy student life.”
Now in her junior year, Hartfield is looking ahead to interning and shaping her aspirations to be a public relations specialist. She has her sights set on graduation and going to Atlanta, maybe someplace in Texas, and working for a company that aligns with her values.
Hartfield looks to complete her bachelor’s in December 2023, and is motivated to strive toward a bright future — one she can control. She wants students like her, students who might be struggling, to keep moving forward, to reach out and to understand there are people who can help.
“MSU has supported me so much, particularly the stellar staff at ComArtSci,” she said. “I have received tremendous help, warm welcomes, and immense kindness from my advisors. I really sense they desire to be there for students and that they care for students like me.”
— Ann Kammerer